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Five Hot Exoplanets Discovered

NASA’s Kepler space telescope mission is sending back data on exoplanets we’ve never seen before. Five new planets that the probe recently discovered are large planets that revolve close to their stars, making it easier for us to see them.

The smallest of the new planets is about the same size as Neptune, though much more massive. All of the planets are hotter than molten lava and could turn gold to goo, according to NASA temperature estimates.

Dubbed Kepler 4b, 5b, 6b, 7b, and 8b, the five new planets range in temperature from 2,000 to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,090 to 1,650 degrees Celsius), William Borucki, Kepler’s principal investigator, said today during a press briefing at the American Astronomical Society’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

One of the worlds, Kepler 7b, is among the lowest-density planets yet found, with about the same density as Styrofoam, he said.

The data from Kepler contains the possibility of many new exoplanets, but only these five have been confirmed so far. Link

(image credit: William Borucki/NASA)

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January 6th, 2010

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